Iraq summons Turkish ambassador, reveals ‘powerful trump cards’ against the country
Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad for the third time Wednesday after a Turkish drone strike killed two Iraq commanders and a soldier in the Kurdistan Region, further escalating tensions between the neighbouring countries.
Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yildiz was handed a memorandum containing Iraq’s concerns about the attack at the foreign ministry summons Tuesday.
“The ministry stressed in the memorandum that the Turkish government should cease the bombardment and withdraw its aggressive forces from all Iraqi territory,” read a statement from the ministry late Wednesday.
Separately, the spokesman for the ministry, Ahmed Al-Sahaf, told Rudaw on Wednesday that Iraq will seek “diplomatic options and political solutions” when responding to Turkish attacks on its land, adding that his country has a number of “powerful” leverage to use against Turkey if it continues its bombardment.
“The Iraqi government has powerful trump cards such as the annual 16-billion trade volume between both countries which is in the interest of Turkey. There are also tens of Turkish companies in Iraq and border crossings,” he said.
Land Iraq’s federal government controls does not share borders with Turkey, with the demarkment running exclusively along the Kurdistan Region Government’s (KRG) territory. Moreover, a large amount of Turkish companies operating in Iraq are based in the Kurdistan Region.
With the KRG financially relying on oil sales to Turkey, shutting down trade across the border could prove disastrous for the Region.
Iraq cancelled Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar’s Thursday visit to Baghdad.
After Iraqi border guards in the Kurdistan Region’s Sidakan area clashed with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) due to advances of the former in the area, officials from both sides held a meeting Wednesday to reach a deal. Two Iraqi commanders and a soldier were killed in their vehicle due to a Turkish drone strike.
Kurds make up the majority of members of the Iraqi border forces units stationed in the Kurdistan Region. Those killed in Tuesday’s attack were Kurds, according to Ihsan Chalabi, mayor of Sidakan.
Turkey launched a new offensive in the Kurdistan Region on June 15, with the stated aim of removing PKK fighters from its borders with the Region. PKK is an armed force struggling for the political and cultural rights of Kurds in Turkey.
The Turkish ambassador to Iraq was summoned twice in June at the beginning of the latest Turkish operations in the country.
Ankara has not commented on the drone strike or its aftermath at the time of reporting.
Chalabi told Rudaw late Wednesday that Iraq has “deployed a large number of troops, border guards, to Sidakan in the last two days. They aim to establish six military bases for the border guards,” adding that the bases will be in Qalarash, Barbazeen, Garuy Zeen, Koti Hajar and Goshina areas.
However, the PKK is preventing Iraqi forces from setting up bases in some areas, according to Chalabi.
He said the new force is made up of some 500 fighters, 10-15 armored vehicles, tens of other military vehicles, ammunition, in addition to trucks to help establish the bases.
Turkish recent offensive has killed at least seven civilians and injured several others so far in addition to Tuesday’s casualties. Source